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Time Out New York Project: Issue #783, September 30-October 6, 2010
Dir. Catherine Corsini. 2009. N/R. 85mins. In French, Catalan and English, with subtitles. Kristin Scott Thomas, Sergi López, Yvan Attal.
This trashy Kristin Scott Thomas vehicle is never less than a hoot — an unintentional one, if we’re to take the film’s lugubriously solemn tones at face value. The parody-ready opening sees French-English housewife Suzanne (Scott Thomas) — a look of utter, I say, utter despair on her face — rise from her bed, walk dejectedly into another room and, supposedly, shoot herself. Cue titles! Cowriter-director Catherine Corsini composes the images so staidly that they scream “seriousness!” even as they inspire snickers.
In flashback, we learn the reasons for Suzanne’s distress: Her politico husband (Attal) is a dullard, and they’ve just hired a hot Catalan handyman (López) with a furious libido. The bored bourgie and the passionate prole soon hit the sheets, and it’s to the film’s credit that it goes beyond the typical cheating-spouse template by having Suzanne confess the affair early on. Corsini clearly wants to explore the fallout that can result from an extramarital liaison, something she does successfully via Suzanne’s teenage children, both of whom handle this unexpected situation with believable awkwardness. But otherwise, Leaving is a tawdry potboiler slathered riotously in portent, complete with a lamebrained detour into vengeance that only Claude Chabrol would be able to pull off.—Keith Uhlich
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